Origin of the Habit
This set came out in 1980, which sounds about right, because I think I first started kicking the D&D tires in 1978 or 79. I still have many of the miniatures that came in the set, but the box and map have long since been lost. I'd even had trouble wracking my brain about what the company and name of the product were. When I was down at ReaperCon, Ed Pugh told me what it was and so I've been searching for a set out of nostalgia...my nostalgia budget this month didn't exceed $70, which was the winning bid range. Maybe later another will come up and I'll be better funded or more lucky.The set came with enough figures for a small party (wizard, dwarf, fighter, halfling thief). It also came with paints, a brush, a d6, a dungeon map, painting guide, and rule book.
The rules were really simple, and characters had only three or four stats to keep track of--everything was on a d6.
My little brother, my friends Matt Clark and Audie McAvoy and I took the basic rule set and created our own complete and detailed rules system. We also took the premise of the map and did it up in 3D with balsa wood walls painted like stone glued to foam core board marked out in two inch squares. We built the dungeon levels to stack down to around third level, and down to the lower levels you walked on 2x4 bridges on saw horses to other levels around my basement...which we'd marked out in 2" squares using yard sticks and permanent markers. (I had a permissive mother)
Our version of the game didn't involve quite so much role playing, it was more board game based, I suppose. Each player had their own party of 5 characters and we all went into the dungeon each week in staggered turns, competing for the treasure to be found there. My little brother had three mounted knights who rode their war horses through the dungeon.
Each week we would rotate DMing duties, so that everyone got a chance to compete. We were very strict about turns--if you went to the bathroom IRL you had to secure a room and if your turn came up and monsters attacked while the player wasn't there, you were presumed to have been surprised and too stunned to react. When we stopped playing, everyone had to teleport out of the dungeon.
Those were wonderful days, and I've still got all of the characters, notebooks and other items we used back then...though the basement flooded while I was at college and the dungeon levels were destroyed. At some point, I hope to use the maps I still have to reconstruct the old dungeon for my current players.
I didn't convert to AD&D Second Edition from my own home brew game system until the 1990's...1991, I think. That conversion was the last one I'll ever do. I'm a 2E holdout for life, now.